Space-X Falcon 9 Reaches Orbit on Maiden Launch!

- Today is a barrier-busting day! Falcon-9 on its first attempt, launched flawlessly form Patrick Air Force Base at Cape Canaveral, and with both stages firing perfectly, and with the faring carrying a mock-up Dragon Capsule, reached orbit!

This first great success for NASA's COTS Program encourages us all. The Commercial Orbital Transportation System was instituted by NASA to fill the gap between the retirement of the Shuttle fleet and the entry into service of the Constellation fleet. Constellation is now on the chopping block, with its old and expensive technologies, but the "gap" during which NASA must pay Russia to fly its astronauts to the Station, now looks to be a shorter one than many had feared. Orbital Services may follow Space-X lead within the year.

The Moon Society congratulates Space-X for this great feat, and wishes to encourage all other "New Space" firms to keep pursuing their lofty and vitally important goals.

The Dragon capsule will have two forms: cargo and crew versions. We can expect a few more dry runs, and if all continues to go well, Falcon-9 and Dragon will soon be carrying cargo to the International Space Station. And once a safety record is achieved, Dragon will be carrying NASA astronauts to the station as well, reducing, then ending reliance on Russia's Soyuz capsules.

Space will not be really open until enterprise and people can enter space freely. This day will be noted in history as the first great crack in the wall.

The Society is encouraged by this success and others that will follow, given the financial incentives outlined in the 2011 NASA budget yet to be taken up by Congress. In that budget, the emphasis is on funding start-up, barrier-busting technologies that promise to bring the cost of space transportation down to the point that Earth's Econosphere can continue expanding outward freely.

NASA has done a superlative job blazing a trail. Now it is time for the rest of us to follow that trail and extend it and its branches further.

We look forward to the first successful Falcon-9/Dragon Cargo Capsule flight to ISS.


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